The president of Maldives has escaped unhurt from a blast on his speedboat as he was returning home after performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Yameen Abdul Gayoom's wife, Fatima Ibrahim, and an aide suffered minor injuries while a bodyguard sustained relatively serious injuries following Monday's incident, according to a government official.

"There was an explosion at President Gayoom's official speedboat near Male jetty. The president is unhurt, but the first lady was slightly injured," Mohamed Hussain Shareef, minister at the president's office, told Reuters news agency.

He said the explosion occurred as the boat reached the main jetty in the capital, Male.

The cause of the blast, thought to have happened in the engine room, was not known, Shareef said,

Boating accidents and fires are common in the Indian Ocean nation.

President Gayoom, 59, is a controversial figure both at home and abroad. He rose to power in a bitterly contested presidential election in 2013.

The leader he defeated, Mohamed Nasheed, was jailed this year for terrorism in a case that has drawn international criticism.

Amal Clooney, a human rights lawyer, called for international sanctions against the Maldives after visiting Nasheed this month.

The country's international airport is on a different island and a short boat trip is needed to reach the capital island [AP]

Source: Agencies